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The REALM project

REALM brings greenhouse farmers and microalgae producers together, so they can overcome some of the biggest challenges they face today.

Listen to microalgae specialist Alexandre Rodrigues from Necton and learn more about the REALM project.

How it works

Greenhouses farmers

add nitrogen and other nutrients to the irrigation water so plants grow quick and healthy.

They refrain from directly reusing this water as it might spread plant diseases and, in the worst case, destroy entire harvests. But before discharge, greenhouse farmers have to clean the drain water to decrease the concentration of the nutrients therein.

This is important, so nutrients don’t accumulate in our rivers, lakes and oceans. In such nutrient-rich waters, plants or algae can grow excessively, leaving only little oxygen freely available for fish and other aquatic creatures. Dead zones arise.

Cleaning drain water is a costly process that microalgae producers can perform free of charge.

Microalgae products

are currently only available in niche markets. You can find them for instance in smoothies and skin-care products. 

Microalgae can contribute to a healthier and more sustainable future far beyond their current uses.

Microalgae are rich in essential nutrients and produce compounds that can boost the health of plants, animals and humans.

In the REALM project, we will develop feed for and agrichemicals like bio-pesticides and bio-stimulants. As microalgae only need sunlight, CO2, water, and nutrients, their products can be highly environmentally friendly.


Microalgae products can be a sustainable alternative to grow healthy plants and fish.

Microalgae producers

can grow microalgae cost-effectively in the drain water from greenhouses, instead of fresh water.

As the microalgae grow, they consume nutrients like nitrogen, removing them from the drain water. With low-cost open ponds next to greenhouses, this free source of water and nutrients can be effectively used.

Along with an automated cultivation system and the sun as the main energy source, the REALM cultivation concept is expected to drastically reduce the production costs of microalgae by up to 50%.


When the production costs of microalgae are halved, innovative algae products can hit lower price markets.
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Press release

Fighting water pollution and shortage with algae

New research will grow microalgae in drain water from greenhouses for cleaner water and lower microalgae production costs


Technical enquiries

Media enquiries

This project has received funding from the European Union‘s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement N° 101060991

Participating companies and universities

Biorizon Biotech, Decerna Limited, ESCI, GreenCoLab, Grupo Empresarial La Caña, Hubel Verde, Interuniversitair Micro-Electronica Centrum, Necton (coordinator), Phycoworks LTD, Stichting Imec Nederland, S2AquaCoLab, Turun Yliopisto, University of Almeria, University of Cadiz, University of Twente, Wageningen University